A six-pack of University of Miami Hurricanes notes on a Thursday:
▪ Here’s one area where Manny Diaz believes the Canes have been able to maintain the tradition of the great UM teams: Defensive tackle.
“What’s cool if you really think about it,” Diaz told WQAM’s Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey, is “we’ve now in four years turned over our defensive line three times.”
And from a defensive tackle standpoint, they’ve maintained a generally high level of play in transitioning from a Kendrick Norton and Richard McIntosh Jr. to last year’s group anchored by Gerald Willis to this year’s group featuring five good players (Jon Ford, Pat Bethel, Nesta Silvera, Chigozie Nnoruka and Jordan Miller).
“We’re still top five tackles for loss, we’re still top five sacks, 11th in rush defense,” Diaz said. “It is a style of play — not my style of play — this is the Miami style of defensive line play. This is what the entire defense since the 1980s has been based on, great defensive tackle play. The neat thing is other than Chigozie and Pat, all those guys return next year.”
So do three redshirting freshmen defensive tackles that UM coaches believe will be outstanding players: Jason Blissett, Jalar Holley and Jared Harrison Hunte.
UM hasn’t had the elite NFL defensive tackles like the glory teams had in Jerome Brown and Warren Sapp, among others. But the play has held up rather well with only a few exceptions, like the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin, when Willis was out and UM was gouged. The run defense has been solid this season, aside from missed tackles in a couple of games (particularly Georgia Tech).
▪ Diaz said the narrative that Jarren Williams couldn’t throw deep was a myth. But the metrics show clear improvement.
Against FBS schools this season, Williams entered the FSU game having completed only 1 of 10 passes that were thrown at least 20 yards in the air (for 38 yards).
Then against FSU, he completed three of five such throws for 129 yards and two touchdowns, evidence he has improved his biggest weakness. (Williams completed a couple of deep balls against FCS opponent Bethune Cookman.)
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos has mentioned Willliams’ improved lower body mechanics and footwork. “There were a couple of things I was doing where I wasn’t getting full strength on my deep balls,” Williams said.
▪ Four-star Hialeah Champagnat defensive back Jalen Harrell is expected to take a UM official visit this weekend and attend the home finale against Louisville.
He previously has taken one official visit to Georgia Tech and plans to visit UCF and told Canesport he might visit Nebraska and Penn State. Louisville is in the mix, too.
Rivals ranks him the 111th best cornerback, but UM plans to play him at safety or cornerback.
Five-star California-based linebacker Justin Flowe also is expected to visit this weekend, but UM is considered a long shot. Clemson is considered to have a good chance to land him, with Oregon, UM and Georgia the other teams in his top four.
▪ Some playing time items from correspondent Daniel Gould: No player’s snaps have dropped more since the opener than defensive end Scott Patchan, who was replaced by Greg Rousseau in the starting lineup last week and logged 26 snaps against FSU, compared with 47 for Jon Garvin, 41 for Rousseau and 40 for Trevon Hill. …
The difference in snaps between DeeJay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris remains significant. Dallas played 55, Harris 8 against FSU…
Dee Wiggins (28 snaps) is now playing almost as much as Jeff Thomas (31), with Mark Pope logging 12 snaps against FSU and Jeremiah Payton one snap. KJ Osborn (50) and Mike Harley (40) continue to lead in receiver snaps….
Freshman Te’Cory Couch - who has been used most on special teams - got four snaps at cornerback against FSU. Al Blades led corners in snaps with 58. ... Robert Knowles (45 snaps) got more playing time than Amari Carter (39) at safety - a testament to the high regard UM coaches have for Knowles and his play this season.
▪ Wiggins not only is impressing coaches with his improved play but also his leadership. Despite being only a sophomore, Wiggins was one of the players who spoke up in that team-only meeting two weeks ago. UM is 2-0 since.
“We were at a crossroads two weeks ago; Dee was really at the forefront of that [meeting],” Diaz told WQAM. “As a sophomore, he’s not our leading receiver. But that shows how much Dee [cares]. He believes in the greater ideal of what it means to be a Hurricane. He was not afraid to speak hard truths to teammates to defend what it means to be a Hurricane. So it was really cool to see him catch the post to help ice the game” against FSU.
▪ Diaz made a comment this week that sheds light on why he wasn’t looking to add an offensive coordinator who would run exclusively a spread offense this season.
“We’re not a neutral brand,” Diaz said on Hurricane Hotline. “Everyone has an opinion on Miami. That’s why it’s important to get our program back to national relevance. Style of play matters to Miami. We’ve seen it on defense.”
He said on offense, Miami football - at its best, during the glory years - features “deep throws, a power downhill running game” and good quarterback play. That’s what he wants here, not an offense that spreads it out, throws most of the time, and doesn’t use much of a power running game.
“It’s been done [very well] before,” Diaz said of that offensive style. “Which means it can be done again.”